REACTION: Martindale laments first half collapse

After Livingston’s 2-1 defeat away at Easter Road, David Martindale spoke to the press, highlighting the team shape and injury concerns. Cameron Wanstall reports.

Photo Credit – Sky Sports

Livingston fell to a 2-1 defeat at Easter Road on Wednesday evening. Kevin Nisbet and Martin Boyle gave Hibernian a comfortable two-goal cushion after a woeful first half showing from the visitors.

However, David Martindale’s men rallied in the second half to give the game a nervy ending. Jay Emmanuel-Thomas scored from the spot late on but it was too little, too late for the Lions.

No Excuses

After a first half of absolute domination and composure from the home side, Martindale reverted Livingston back to their usual 4-2-3-1 from the failing 5-2-2-1 at half time: 

“First half has absolutely killed us but I’m going to take the blame for that. I think the shape killed us a little bit – or the personnel within the shape that we played. I got that wrong.

“I got the boys in at half-time. Told them in no uncertain terms what I was looking for and what we weren’t doing correctly.

“You can’t defend the way we defended as a collective unit in the first half and expect to come away with points in games of football. You give yourself an absolute mountain to climb.”

The Longest of 28 Minutes

After repeatedly failing to deal with Martin Boyle, left-back Jackson Longridge was hooked after just 28 minutes. 

When asked about the substitution, Martindale said. “I think that side of the park – and I’m no isolating Jacko… it’s the whole left-hand side of that park – I don’t think any of them dealt with Boyle well enough.”

Martindale also explained another reason for the early swap. “Jackson got a bad back injury and he’s been on painkillers so I don’t think I done Jackson any favours today, if I’m honest. That’s one of the decisions I got wrong.”

Injuries and Ramadan

Alan Lithgow made his first start since December 2019 after suffering through injury hell. Martindale admits his return was necessary but not wanted:

“Alan really shouldn’t be starting games of football. He’s been out for 14 months, he had to get an operation, he’s had a lot of wee niggles. He got 30, 40 minutes against Aberdeen but asking him to start tonight is probably a little unfair on Alan. 

“Alan Lithgow, in the next couple days, probably won’t be happy he got 90 minutes.”

Unlike Lithgow, Djibril Diani again failed to make the starting eleven for the Lions, but Martindale was quick to give his reasoning for his new signing’s limited game time: 

“Big Djib is on Ramadan the now and it’s difficult. He’s not eating at correct times. In my opinion, it’s got to have an impact and effect on your body. 

“He’s not been able to hydrate during the day when you’re training. So, big Djibril probably would’ve started the game today if I thought he could’ve lasted the 90 minutes but I don’t think he could’ve.”

Next up for Livingston is Aberdeen on May 1st at the Tony Macaroni Arena. The Lions will hope to get their first league win since March 13th to keep St Johnstone at bay in the fight for 5th place.

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